But, I have one student who continues to amaze me with her feat of strength and bravery. Her mother has cancer and has been given a deadline. Now, an average 7th grader would show their emotions–act out (not necessarily in a bad way, but in a way you could tell something was wrong). Grades would drop, participation and socializing would fall, their face would be the emotional giveaway, there would be days they were absent. Not this girl. Not her siblings. They have not missed a day at all this year. My principal told me that last year when their grandma died, they only missed half a school day for the funeral. Even when their mom was having brain surgery to try to help the cancer, they still went to school. She has straight A’s. She never skips a beat–participation is getting stronger and more constant, she still puts 100% effort in every assignment she does. I see smiles and laughs coming from her often. I wondered if she was just trying to hide her emotions (whereas I wear mine on my sleeve). My principal told me the mom had been fighting cancer for years and has been given numerous deadlines, so the girls have grown up with this as almost a fact of life. But, still.
When I become ill while Tayler’s dad was deployed with the Marine Corps in Iraq, I DID worry about my kids. I worried, with my husband gone, who would care for them because I was so sick and in such excruciating pain that I was unable to care for them myself. But that worry was more along the lines of their emotional well-being and the basics like meals, bathtime and general needs being met, rather than whether or not they were keeping up with their studies.